Melbourne Zoo and You: 150 years
In the early 1900s, a trip to Melbourne Zoological Gardens may have involved a ride on Queenie the elephant, throwing peanuts to the bears in the bear pit and watching Mollie the orang-utan smoke a cigarette in her small enclosure!
Things are different these days.
Nowadays, a visit to Melbourne Zoo could include viewing endangered Asian elephant calves, Mali and Ongard, foraging and roaming in the Trail of the Elephants habitat; viewing baby Dewi in the Orang-utan Sanctuary; listening to a keeper explain the Zoo’s breeding program for the endangered Lord Howe Island stick insect or even enjoying a twilight concert in the grounds.
The Zoo has been part of the experiences and memories of the Victorian public for 150 years, and in this story we celebrate, explore and remember the animal stars of yesterday and today, visitor experiences through the generations and stories of the keepers who have cared for the animals since it opened in 1862.
Visitor encounters and expectations of the Zoo have evolved over the years along with the Zoo’s practices. It has transformed from its early days of collecting and displaying species for public viewing to its current role in fighting extinction through local and global breeding and conservation programs.
Zoos Victoria’s commitment to fighting extinction is also explored through the Melbourne Zoo’s breeding programs for threatened and endangered species and their international conservation work outside the zoo walls.
For more on the history of Melbourne Zoo listen to Queenie, Choi and friends , a wonderful radio documentary by Hindsight, Radio National.
The Zoo's first hippos stars: William and Rosamund
A true Zoo character: Mollie
A Zoo icon: Queenie
A family favourite: Betty
Orang-utan twins: Bono and Suma
First gorilla baby: Mzuri
A Zoo first: Mali
Early attractions at the Zoo, 1893
Zoo visitors in the 1890s
Donkey and carriage rides, 1900s
Zoo memories from 1940
Train rides for children
Feeding the animals
Zoo poster, c 1950
Zoo carousel, 1970s
Zoo memories from 1980
Zoo employees, 1896
Zoo keeper, 1944
Elephant keeper, 1949
Animal superintendent, 1967
Zoo education staff, 1970s
Primate keeper, 1991
Fighting extinction: inside and outside the Zoo walls
Fighting extinction: Sumatran tigers
Fighting extinction: Asian elephants
Fighting extinction: Lord Howe Island stick insect
Fighting extinction: southern corroboree frog
Fighting extinction: eastern barred bandicoot
Outside the zoo walls: tenkile
Outside the Zoo walls: orang-utan
Outside the Zoo walls: gorilla
Melbourne Zoo – 150 years in Royal Park
Story education resources
Education Curriculum connections and classroom ideas
This story can be incorporated into learning experiences about the protection and care of the natural environment on a local, national or global level, changes in environments over time, human impact on the environment, historical issues surrounding the treatment of animals, as well as ways to take action to improve environmental issues. Curriculum connections as well as classroom ideas for grades 5-8 students are available to accompany the Melbourne Zoo and You: 150 years online story.